The Insider - October 2017

October 2017

EGGSCELLENT NEWS Dippy egg and soldiers for everyone!

DRINK & DRUG DRIVING Are your employees under the inf luence when driving to work? SEXUAL HARASSMENT AT WORK What should you do i f an employee feels they are being sexual ly harassed?



Ar t i c l e by F i ona S i nc l a i r , D i r e c t o r a t STS

How refreshing it is to be able to print a success story and report on some good news! While it may not be world peace or a win:win in the Brexit negotiations, thousands of elderly care home residents across the nation are now once again able to safely enjoy one of life’s simple pleasures – dippy egg and soldiers for breakfast. For years caterers across the country have adopted the policy, in line with governmental advice, not to serve eggs with runny yolks to the elderly or other vulnerable groups including pregnant women, infants and children, due to the risk of Salmonella. This policy has caused much disgruntlement and even conflict between care home residents, and their catering managers. We’ve even come across browbeaten catering managers asking private hospital patients to sign disclaimers when the paying patients have reached boiling point and refused to back down in their demands for dippy eggs. It’s not just healthcare organisations who were affected by the ban - dismayed chefs in restaurants across the nation have been forced to find alternative recipes to the raw egg traditionally used in desserts such as mousse and tiramisu. Runny eggs have, for decades, been one of those areas where consumer demands collide with food safety. Historically eggs have been a topic of dread for EHO’s and food safety consultants alike - we feel a bit like the egg police when explaining sympathetically that caterers do need to deny dear Ethel or darling Walter their dippy egg, due to the risk of salmonella. For an EHO, food safety consultant or caterer to give the green light would have been flying in the face of governmental advice and, as such, if anundercooked egg had caused food poisoning

there would have been a high price to pay....not just a guilty conscience but a guilty verdict in court. Yesterday we received the fantastic news that based on scientific evidence the Food Standards Agency has changed the advice on runny eggs. The new guidance says that eggs which are produced under the British Lion Scheme CAN be eaten runny or raw, even by those who are particularly vulnerable to serious cases of food poisoning e.g. the elderly, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems. This decision may have been a long time coming but it’s so good to see a sound, risk based decision being made. Another facet to this success story is that interventions to reduce salmonella in eggs under the Lion Mark scheme have worked. This recognises massive progress since 1988 when then health minister Edwina Curry declared that most of Britain's egg production was infected with the salmonella bacteria and is proof that focused, concerted efforts can help win the battle against the bugs – encouraging news for the industry and consumer alike. Yesterday chefs, caterers, EHO’s and we food safety consultants took a collective sigh of relief with good reason. We all work hard to comply with many aspects of food safety, recent examples being compliance with new allergen legislation and addressing detailed guidelines to avoid cross contamination.It’s so good to see something swing in favour of the caterers and remove an area of risk for a change – cracking news!


“We recently came across an example where a company had a warehouse operative whose role included fork lift truck driving. The fork lift is not road registered and he only drives it within the confines of the business premises. The employee was convicted of drug driving and received a 22 month driving ban; this did not directly affect his employment as he did not have to drive a company vehicle in his role. However, when his MD mentioned the driving ban to the company insurer at renewal time he was told that they could not insure the employee to drive the forklift as his drug use made him an unacceptable risk. The employer was left with no other alternative but to terminate the employee as he was not legally able to carry out his duties due to lack of insurance. "FEW PEOPLE, HOWEVER, CONSIDER HOW LONG IT TAKES ALCOHOL TO LEAVE THEIR SYSTEM"

These days everyone is aware of the impact drugs and alcohol can have on the workplace environment and most, if not all, companies will have a strict drugs and alcohol policy in place. Societal use of drugs and alcohol has undergone a dramatic change in recent years in terms of attitude towards drink driving and drug use as well as the introduction of so-called legal highs, so it’s important to also look at how an employee’s use of substances outside the workplace can have drastic implications within. “Most people these days know the dangers of drinking and driving and will make alternative arrangements to get home ahead of a big night out. Few people, however, consider how long it takes alcohol to leave their system and there’s a good chance that someone may still be over the legal limit when driving to work in the morning. “People sometimes raise questions about activities that are undertaken outside of work and why they would have an impact on work so it’s important to look closer at the issue. Danny Clarke, Group Operations Director for the ELAS Group, explains:


“Our advice to clients and employees is relatively straightforward – what people get up to outside of work should not have any impact on the workplace. However, if the employee’s outside work activities raise health and safety concerns or risks when they are back on company premises, or undertaking work on behalf of the company, then the company will be left in a position whereby they need to take steps to control or reduce these risks. “There are very severe penalties for employers who fail to prevent accidents caused by the actions of an employee. It’s a legal requirement for companies to have a Health and Safety policy in place and we have seen a huge increase in the number of insurers that are making it a requirement to have a drugs and alcohol policy as well. Being under the influence can impair a person’s ability to carry out their duties; when they are in charge of heavy equipment e.g. a fork lift then there is a genuine risk to those around them. Our experience has found that those companies which have a well defined drugs and alcohol policy in place backed up by training, education and a well defined screening process often get a better rate of insurance. By proving that they are able to reduce the risk of drug and alcohol related workplace accidents, the insurance that would cover these is also reduced thereby saving you money.” *Drug tests conducted at a police station are able to test for LSD, ecstasy, ketamine and heroin.

“Statistics show that four drivers a day are being convicted of drug driving offences so it surprises me that organisations aren’t doing more to ensure that the people who drive for their business are fit to do so. When you consider that roadside drug driving tests only screen for cocaine and cannabis it begs the question of how many convictions would there be if people were tested for a wider panel?* “It’s also important for employers to look at the contributory factors associated with drink and drug abuse in the workplace and ensure they are managing them effectively. “Workplace testing has been used for decades but we’ve also seen drug and alcohol usage dramatically increase over this time as well. Companies need to remember that while testing can be used to identify those who come to work whilst impaired, it’s just as important to take a proactive approach to the issue, educating employees and minimising the chance of them taking the risk of coming to work whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol. "STATISTICS SHOW THAT FOUR DRIVERS A DAY ARE BEING CONVICTED OF DRUG DRIVING OFFENCES"



With Harvey Weinstein dominating the headlines, a spotlight is shining on the issue of sexual harassment which unfortunately appears to still be prevalent in the modern workplace. The term harassment includes unwanted verbal or physical behaviour that creates a hostile work environment – this could be anything from badgering someone to take part in social activities to being subjected to unwarranted criticism about your work performance to harassment that is discriminatory on the grounds of age, race, disability etc. This is unfortunately widespread in the working environment, however it does appear that harassment of a sexual nature is more common than we might previously have thought. The most obvious example, as we’ve seen with Harvey Weinstein, is making improper advances but sexual harassment includes telling lewd jokes, sharing sexual images and making sexually offensive gestures. Of course the list goes on....up to and including sexual assault. The TUC surveyed 1500 women and found that of those, 52% had been victims of unwanted sexual behaviours at work, varying from inappropriate jokes to groping.

Shockingly almost 20% cited their manager or someone in a position of authority as being the perpetrator of the harassment. 80% of those who had been harassed never reported it.

Document, document, document. Make notes of any incidents that have occurred and when, whether it’s in a diary or on your phone. Be sure to note dates, times, comments made/actions taken and any other employees who may have witnessed this. Don’t worry if there aren’t any witnesses, quite often those who are harassing others will to their best to ensure that there is nobody around to witness their behaviour. Ensure that you keep copies of your notes to ensure that they can’t ‘be lost. Tell the perpetrator to stop it. Make it clear verbally and/or in writing that you do not want them to act this way towards you, that their behaviour must stop and you will not tolerate it. SO WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU BELIEVE YOU ARE BEING SEXUALLY HARASSED IN THE WORKPLACE?


As an employer, sexual harassment can be difficult to deal with particularly, as above, when the perpetrator is a senior member of staff, or worse, the owner/CEO of the business. However to turn a blind eye is to be complicit in the behaviour, not to mention falling foul of employment law.  experience becomes physical in any way, then you should report it to the police. Touching someone in this way is sexual assault and a criminal offence; whether or not your company takes action, the police should be informed. If you do not feel that your complaint has been taken seriously then you should raise a grievance in writing. Check your company’s harassment and grievance procedures to establish whether there is any further assistance or steps you could take or that the company would be expected to take. You also have the right to make a claim in the Employment Tribunal against your employer if they fail to take action to prevent harassing behaviour. The Supreme Court abolished tribunal fees earlier this year, finding them to be indirectly discriminatory as a higher proportion of women would bring discrimination cases and the fees may be preventing them from doing so. If filing a grievance does not resolve the issue, or at any time the sexual harassment you Tell someone. Subjecting someone to unwanted conduct, whether sexual or otherwise, is wrong. Yes it’s scary to speak up and you might feel intimidated but you will feel worse if the behaviour continues, or if it goes on to happen to someone else. There should be someone in your workplace you can trust. They will be able to help you report it to the appropriate person – whether that’s a manager or your HR department. This can vary depending on who the perpetrator is and what position they hold within the company.

Watch out for banter – yes we all like a laugh to ease the stress of work but it can go horribly wrong when boundaries are crossed and seemingly harmless jokes turn sinister. Keep an eye on what kind of conversations are taking place to ensure you protect staff who might be subject to bullying and harassment. Educate staff and management as to what constitutes harassment and what the boundaries are. Provide work place training on the topic as well as on equality and diversity, which go hand in hand. potential harasser, but also ensure that the victim knows they can, and should, report any conduct and that they will be protected should they do so. As much as sexual harassment of any kind is wrong, so is retaliation against an employee who reports that they have been/are being harassed. Review your disciplinary process to ensure that it’s suitable to tackle the issue should misconduct be found to have occurred. Train managers not only to spot the signs of harassment but to deal with this type of complaint sensitively. Equip them with the tools they need to carry out the right investigatory process and procedure should they be tasked with dealing with a complaint. Support the victim – if harassment is found to have occurred, it could have a serious effect on their health and wellbeing. Do you offer access to a counselling service etc? Remember: an employer is vicariously liable for the actions of its employees, so it will be your responsibility as an employer if one of your employees is found to have committed unlawful sexual harassment and you did not take all reasonable steps to prevent it.  AS AN EMPLOYER YOU SHOULD: Ensure that you have clear and rigorous policies in place which not only act as a deterrent for any


66% of employees say that they are more likely to stay with a company that offers a good employee benefit scheme - are you surprised? We’re not! Not only can employee benefit schemes increase the morale of your workforce, they can also help you to:

This employee reward scheme provides an online portal where your employees can take advantage of great savings, discounts and even get cash back from thousands of nationwide brands including Sainsburys, Apple, Cineworld and The White Company. There is an extensive list of household name brands participating in this plan and we’re sure that it includes something for everyone. From time to time everyone needs a bit of help and, in times of distress, it helps to have someone to turn to. Our employee assistance programme provides a confidential telephone counselling service manned by qualified counsellors.  If your employee feels that they would benefit from more of a personal touch when it comes to counselling, we can also provide nationwide face to face counselling*. 

Recruit and retain employees Improve productivity and staff performance Create a healthy work-life balance

ELAS Rewards is our employee benefit scheme designed specifically to help you look after your employees. ELAS Rewards is divided into two complementary services; an employee reward scheme and an employee assistance programme (EAP). Everyone likes a bargain!



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